In France the Advertising Regulation Board (BVP) and the Federation of Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances (FIP) have re-written ethical codes governing the advertising of personal care products in the country.
The new rules aim to crack down on products that claim to have be physically enhancing, stating that such claims should be clearly backed up with proven scientific or medical evidence to show that the products are really effective.
In a statement the FIP said that the new guidelines would particularly target anti-wrinkle or slimming products in a move to crack down on manufacturers making claims about their product that have not been fully and independently vetted.
The new guidelines also go into greater detail about such medical or scientific claims, stating that studies or research work relating to claims must clearly outline the proven efficacy of the product in question.
Likewise the use of professionals, such as dermatologists, to back up product claims will be more strictly regulated. This means that generic references to professionals will be replaced by more specific references.
The new rules will attempt to woo an increasingly skeptical French consumer. In recent years media campaigns by lobby and media groups have highlighted potential health risks associated with chemicals in personal care products.
Consequently consumers have turned to natural products. According to a recent report from the Organics Monitor, this led to a 40 per cent increase in sales of natural products in 2005.
One particular television documentary is said to have been a catalyst for the market shift. Broadcast in March 2005, it highlighted the possible dangers of substances like parabens and petrochemicals in personal care products.
The move to update the advertising code in the country carries big stakes. The French cosmetics and toiletries market is the biggest in Europe and the third biggest in the world, being placed behind the US and Japanese markets respectively.
Although sales in volumes are on a similar level to those in the other major European countries, by value expenditure is very high, with individual consumers willing to spend significant amounts of money on products that are considered to be of a high quality and effective.
In 2004 the market was valued €11bn and with a growth rate of around 3-4 per cent it is expected to be valued at €13.9 billion by 2009.